Rivers and Streams: Plants

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11457

You have seen plants that live on land-in fields, forests and farmlands. Did you know plants can live in water? There's a very nasty plant that takes over everything! Create a fact sheet about lilies!


Life Science, World

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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How do you think plants survive in water, especially moving water? What plants have you seen in rivers?


In the first Related Lesson, found in the right-hand sidebar, you learned about the differences between rivers and streams.

Tell your parent or teacher what rivers and streams have in common and what makes them different.

Rivers and streams are both flowing bodies of water. This means they are constantly moving.

Rivers are larger and deeper than streams.

Streams are smaller and shallower than rivers.

The picture on the left shows a stream, and the picture on the right shows a river:

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Plants can survive in moving water. Most river plants grow along the edges of the river. Plants that are found in rivers vary based on location. The plants found in the Nile River in Africa are much different from the plants found in the Mississippi River in the United States. 

The temperature, weather, and amount of sunlight the river is exposed to affects the plants that can live there. Plants need different temperatures, amounts of rainfall, and amounts of sunlight to survive. This is the same for the plants that are found in rivers and streams.

The location of the river affects the plants that can live there. In this lesson, you will learn about common plants that live in streams and rivers.

water lillies

Cattails are common plants that can be found along the banks of rivers. Do you know what the bank of a river is? Tell your parent or teacher.

The bank of a river is the outer slopes of a river. Did you know cattails can grow up to ten feet tall? Cattails have long green leaves. Do you see the leaves on the cattail below? The male part of the cattail is the tiny, yellow spike on the cattail. The female part of the cattail is the long, brown, hot dog-shaped flower. Can you find the female part of the cattail? Great!

cat tails

Lily pads can also be found along the outer banks of rivers. Lily pads have large green leaves that float on the surface of the water. Waterlilies have flowers that come in different sizes and colors. Their flowers are usually yellow, white, pink, or purple. The roots of a water lily grow into the ground of the river and stream. This allows the lily pads to stay in one place. If they didn't have these roots, they would float away!

water lillies

Water stargrass grows in rivers and streams. Water stargrass can grow up to six feet long! The flowers on water stargrass are yellow. Can you guess what shape they are? Water stargrass has flowers that are shaped like six-sided stars.

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Another plant that is found in rivers and streams is a water hyacinth. This type of flower floats freely on the water. It can grow up to three feet tall. Its flowers can be blue or violet. This plant grows very fast! It can spread so much that it disrupts the flow of the river or stream it is growing in!

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Before moving on to the next section, tell your parent or teacher one interesting fact you learned about the plants that are found in lakes and streams. 

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